Season so far: S'land, Fulham, West Ham, Boro, Blackburn
Using CatalystÃ¢ÂÂs PowerTable, we're analysing how each Premier League side has started the season, comparing their performance in the first 11 matches to the first 11 of last season and trying to gauge where they'll be come May.Following on from yesterdayÃ¢ÂÂs look at the PowerTableÃ¢ÂÂs Tier 4 sides (Hull, Stoke, West Brom, Bolton and Wigan) have started to the season, we now move on to the five sides in Tier 3.These sides are, weÃ¢ÂÂre told, typically clubs who have been promoted and are begining to thrive or clubs stuck in mediocrity (we'll name no names here...), with finances, training grounds and commercial factors the main thing keeping them out of Tier 2. So, without further ado...
A decrease in goals conceded a game in the first 11 (1.55 last year and 0.90 this) has helped the Cottagers improve their points per game ratio by 0.28 this season.This has been in spite of a decrease in the number of goals scored per game (down to 0.80), thanks in no small part to injuries to new strike force Andy Johnson and Bobby Zamora, who are yet to start firing.Fulham have been 100% successful against Tier 1 sides (the big boys) this season, although theyÃ¢ÂÂve only played one so far, beating Arsenal in their second match.We reckonÃ¢ÂÂ¦Fulham will need to improve their away record if theyÃ¢ÂÂre to avoid another final-day scrap.. or worse. TheyÃ¢ÂÂve managed just one point and two goals away from home so far this season.SUNDERLAND
The Black Cats have made a steady start to the season, averaging just over a point a game (1.09), an improvement of the 0.82 they had averaged in the first 11 of last season.Despite their hammering at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, they've been tighter at the back than a year ago, having conceded 0.37 less goals a game in the first 11 of this season than last.Their effectiveness against Tier 2 and 3 teams has improved on last season as a whole, with both ratings at 67% compared to last seasonÃ¢ÂÂs 43% against Tier 3 and 27% against Tier 4.
We reckonÃ¢ÂÂ¦Sunderland should beat the drop, although they will need to improve their record against Tier 4 sides if theyÃ¢ÂÂre to avoid getting drawn into the dogfight.
SaturdayÃ¢ÂÂs draw at Middlesbrough was the HammersÃ¢ÂÂ first of the season, with four wins and six defeats prior to that.Despite fansÃ¢ÂÂ concerns over how many goals the team is scoring, West Ham are actually up 0.18 goals per game on the first 11 matches of last season. ItÃ¢ÂÂs at the back they've got problems, with an extra 0.82 goals per game conceded than a year ago.The Irons are 100% effective against their Tier 3 rivals, which should stand them in good stead for their trip to Sunderland later this month.We reckonÃ¢ÂÂ¦West Ham could be headed for trouble. Only one of their next eight opponents are from outside the top two tiers and the Hammers have a 0% record against Tier 1 sides and 50% against those from tier 2. What happens in the January transfer window at Upton Park will be key.MIDDLESBROUGH
Gareth SouthgateÃ¢ÂÂs side have quietly gone about improving their performance this season, with their goals per game rate staying the same (1.00) and their goals conceded being reduced from 2.00 to 1.45 per game.This has lead to their points per game ratio increasing from 0.73 from the first 11 matches of 2007/08 to 1.27 per match this season.Like last season, Boro have a poor effectiveness rating against fellow Tier 3 sides, with 21% last season falling to 17% from their two Tier 3 matches this term.We reckonÃ¢ÂÂ¦Despite improving on their start of last season, Middlesbrough are one of a group of teams who could be relegated on current performance Ã¢ÂÂ they really need to improve their record against fellow Tier 3 sides. BLACKBURN ROVERS
Having arguably overachieved under the stewardship of Mark Hughes, Rovers are yet to look as strong under Paul Ince.They have an impressive 100% record against Tier 2 teams this season, although theyÃ¢ÂÂve only played two. In any case this stands them in good stead for their trips to Spurs and Portsmouth at the end of the month, two fixtures they won last season.But the Ewood Park side are performing at a level below last season in terms of goals scored (down 0.18 per game), goals conceded (up 1.00 a game) and points per game (down 0.82 per game).We reckonÃ¢ÂÂ¦Despite facing Chelsea this weekend, we expect Blackburn to push up the table between now and the new year, what with their good record against Tier 2 sides (of whom they play three in the next nine).Tomorrow: Tier 2 Ã¢ÂÂ Tottenham, Portsmouth, Everton, Man City and Newcastle.
For the in depth subscribers edition of the PowerTable go to www.powertable.co.uk and read more about the Catalyst Power Table in the December issue of FourFourTwo, out now.